Second cloned cow offspring used in food chain

Press Association
Wednesday 04 August 2010 15:30 BST

Meat from a second offspring of a cloned cow has entered the food chain, the Food Standards Agency said tonight.

The FSA said it had traced all of the calves born in the UK from eight embryos from a cloned cow in the US.

It confirmed meat from a second bull, Parable, had entered the food chain.

Parable, which was born in May 2007 and slaughtered on May 5 2010, follows confirmation yesterday that meat from another of the bulls, Dundee Paratrooper, entered the food chain in 2009.

The FSA said meat from both animals will have been eaten, but stressed there was no evidence of a safety risk.

Yesterday the FSA said a third bull, Dundee Perfect, was slaughtered on July 27 this year and its meat prevented from entering the food chain.

The FSA also confirmed tonight that one of the four cows, Dundee Paradise, remained part of a dairy herd on a UK farm, but there was no evidence milk from the animal had entered the food chain.

The agency believed two other cows were being kept as part of dairy herds but it had been unable to confirm if their milk had entered the food chain.

Of the eight calves, four of each sex, one male and one female died at around one month old. No meat or products from the animal had entered the food chain.

The FSA said it was trying to trace offspring from the eight animals, but added that they would be too young to be milked or used for breeding.

An investigation was launched in the wake of claims that a British farmer had admitted using milk in his daily production without labelling it as from the offspring of a cloned cow.

Under European law, foodstuffs including milk produced from cloned animals must pass a safety evaluation and gain authorisation before they are marketed.

The FSA said it had neither made any authorisations nor been asked to do so.

Earlier today the owner of one of the bulls which entered the food chain insisted he had done nothing wrong.

Farmer Callum Innes bought two bulls produced by the cloned cow from a farm in Shropshire.

Mr Innes's son Steven, who helps run the farm at Auldearn, near Inverness, confirmed the bulls were bought in February 2008.

He said in a statement read outside the farm: "We investigated whether this was legal at the time and understood that there was no issue.

"We have acted in good faith throughout and we've been fully compliant with the relevant authorities' wishes and shall continue to be fully cooperative in order to resolve the situation as soon as possible."

NFU Scotland insisted Mr Innes attempted to clarify the situation beforehand.

A spokeswoman said: "He investigated the issues regarding food chain rules and understood that there was no issue.

"He has acted in good faith throughout, has been fully compliant with the relevant authorities' wishes and shall continue to be fully cooperative in order to resolve this situation as soon as possible."

Mr Innes is said to be one of the biggest dairy farmers in the area and has a herd of Holstein cows.

The FSA admitted today it did not know how many embryos from cloned animals have been imported into Britain.

But FSA chief executive Tim Smith insisted there were no health risks associated with eating meat or drinking milk from the descendants of cloned cows.

Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of microbiology at the University of Aberdeen, said meat and milk from cloned cows posed no health risks.

He said: "It is perfectly safe. They are just the same as their parents from the genetic point of view so there's no problem there."

Conservative Euro MP for Scotland Struan Stevenson added: "Unfortunately, EU rules around the import of meat and dairy products from clones and their offspring are at present confused and inadequate.

"It's this worrying lack of safeguards that has allowed this situation to arise."

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